The Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation (DDCOF) announced that it will provide $3.5 million in funding over three years to 31 Colorado nonprofit organizations to support projects that create accessible oral health care across people’s lifespan and advance oral health equity. Over the past two years, DDCOF has awarded $6.9 million in oral-health-focused grants to Colorado communities.

“We believe oral-health equity means everyone can have a healthy mouth regardless of life circumstances,” said Adeeb Khan, executive director of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. “Partnering on community-driven solutions is essential to achieving our mission. With a 21% increase in applications during our second open grant-making cycle, there is a clear need for on-going, dedicated oral-health funding in the state.”

A variety of social determinants – including race and ethnicity, income, geography, age, housing and food insecurity — impact Coloradans’ oral health and their overall well-being. The second group of DDCOF open-funding grantees have identified solutions that address oral-health disparities aligned with the DDCOF’s focus areas: access to oral health care, prevention of tooth decay and strengthening the connection between oral health and overall health.

The newly funded organizations and their projects include the Summit Community Care Clinic in Frisco, which will use this support to pilot mobile dental services for low-income older adults living in five mountain counties including Lake County.

Summit Community Care Clinic (SCCC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center based in Frisco. The clinic serves the five-county region of Summit, Lake, Chaffee, Park and Grand by offering affordable and comprehensive medical, dental, behavioral and reproductive health services. Services are available regardless of patients’ ability to pay.

In 2015, SCCC began providing preventive dental hygiene services (oral health screenings, cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants) for Lake County students at West Park Elementary, Lake County Intermediate and Lake County High schools. These services are available to all students, whether they have dental insurance or not.

This new grant from Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation will expand SCCC’s reach in Lake County. Over the next three years, the clinic will hold oral health events and participate in community events by bringing mobile dental services for low-income seniors living in the county. The mobile dental clinic will include dental screenings, oral health and hygiene services and restorative dental care. SCCC is collaborating with partners in the community to identify events and implement an outreach plan for its mobile dental services which will begin in 2020.

The clinic’s application stood out to Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation because it had an encouraging approach to geographic barriers and substantial community support for the project to happen. In fact, Summit Community Care Clinic had several letters of support from various organizations within the proposed surrounding counties and offered to provide more if needed.

Two-thirds of Colorado seniors over the age of 75 lack dental insurance. Medicare, the insurance coverage option many older Americans utilize, includes a medical benefit but not a dental one. About 2 in 3 older adults have gum disease and 20 percent of American adults over 65 have lost all their teeth.

“Whether they live in a dental health professional shortage area or cannot afford care, too many Coloradans lack access to proper oral health care,” continued Khan. “Our open funding partners have identified dynamic solutions to oral health challenges. We’re honored to invest in their implementation and broaden our collaboration with communities to help more people live healthier lives.”

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